Posts Tagged ‘UK’

This jungle our garden. هذه الغابة لدينا حديقة.

October 20, 2017

IMG_20171017_161555garden

As a concession to our need to be more inclusive and in the spirit of multiculturalism I will put the next few articles  translated in some of the main languages spoken and written in this wonderful world. We will start of in Arabic using the Google translation method. To our Arabic speaking friends I hope the translation comes across as reasonable!

I am more than pleased that the attempt by our minister for Immigration and (the much feared) Border Protection, Mr Peter Dutton, to make it harder for migrants to become permanent residents by setting university level English language skills has resoundedly failed to get through Parliament.

” it is clear that applicants sitting the new English language test in order to obtain Australian citizenship would need to meet a standard equivalent to that expected of university entrants.”

My parents and I would not have passed that test and more importantly how many of Australian born permanent residents would pass the English test today?  Note that this English language test would not be required by people from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Indeed, would Mr Dutton himself pass? It is clear that his notorious contempt for foreigners shines through,  when within cooee of migrants. However, Mr Dutton’s face lights up and really shines when refugees are included in the mix. His contempt knows no boundaries as shown by his treatment of the refugees banned to the hell-holes of Manus and Nauru, now in their forth year of detention. No charges have been laid.

Their hope lies in being accepted by the US, but with Mr D. Trump’s notoriety dealing with foreigners we will see if that will eventuate. In the meantime Dutton keeps on promising the refugees will never set foot on Australian soil even though the majority have gone through the process and been accepted as genuine refugees.

But, going back to the Dutton English language test, some compared it to the “White Australian Policy” from a few decades ago when coloured people were excluded from citizenship.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

After all this you might be happy to look at the violas again; or are they violets?

It is never too late!

الثقافية سوف أضع المقالات القليلة القادمة تترجم في بعض من اللغات الرئيسية المنطوقة والمكتوبة في هذا العالم الرائع. سنبدأ باللغة العربية باستخدام طريقة الترجمة من غوغل. لأصدقائنا الناطقين باللغة العربية آمل أن تأتي الترجمة عبر معقولة!

أنا أكثر من سعداء أن محاولة السيدنا للهجرة و (المخاوف كثيرا) حماية الحدود، السيد بيتر دوتون، لجعل صعوبة في أن يصبح المهاجرين المقيمين الدائمين من خلال وضع مهارات اللغة الإنجليزية على مستوى الجامعة فشلت بصدور من خلال الحصول على البرلمان .

“من الواضح أن المتقدمين الذين يجلسون اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية الجديد من أجل الحصول على الجنسية الأسترالية سوف تحتاج إلى تلبية معيار يعادل ما هو متوقع من الوافدين إلى الجامعة”.

والدي وأنا لم يكن قد اجتاز هذا الاختبار، والأهم من ذلك كيف العديد من المقيمين الأستراليين المولودين الدائمين اجتياز اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية اليوم؟ لاحظ أن اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية هذا لن يكون مطلوبا من قبل أشخاص من المملكة المتحدة وأيرلندا وكندا ونيوزيلندا والولايات المتحدة.

في الواقع، هل السيد دوتون نفسه يمر؟ ومن الواضح أن ازدراءه السيء السمعة للأجانب يضيء، عندما يكون داخل كوي المهاجرين. ومع ذلك، يضيء وجه السيد دوتون ويضيء حقا عندما يتم تضمين اللاجئين في هذا المزيج. إن ازدراءه لا يعرف حدودا كما هو مبين في معاملته للاجئين المحظورين في جحيم مانوس وناورو، وهي الآن في السنة الأولى من احتجازهم. ولم توجه اتهامات.

أملهم يكمن في قبولها من قبل الولايات المتحدة، ولكن مع السيد D. ترامب سمعة سيئة التعامل مع الأجانب سنرى ما إذا كان ذلك سوف يبرز. وفي الوقت نفسه، تواصل دوتون الوعد بأن اللاجئين لن يضعوا أقدامهم على الأرض الأسترالية على الرغم من أن الأغلبية قد مرت بهذه العملية وتم قبولها كالجئين حقيقيين.

ولكن، بعد العودة إلى اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية في “دتون”، قارن البعض منها ب “السياسة الأسترالية البيضاء” منذ بضعة عقود عندما تم استبعاد الأشخاص الملونين من الجنسية.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

بعد كل هذا قد تكون سعيدا للنظر في الكمان مرة أخرى. أو أنها البنفسج؟

أبدا لم يتأخر

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Putin for President?

June 19, 2017

untitledPutin and Oliver Stone

Last night’s TV watching is what I could do with every night. Forget about all those Master Chefs or Building UK modern houses, or even those new  incomprehensible English crime shows, which are so lost in loud music and serious and significant sideway cast glances by  main actors, that any attention the viewer had intended to give, is soon surrendered over to despair. The Putin- Oliver Stone interview was rivetingly watchable. Not a stir-fry in sight nor a double glazed window. A different kettle of fish.

Of course, Oliver Stone is not known for loving the Republican side of US politics. His keen-eyed  movies and scripts never fail to impress those who are  inclined to be cynical about much of what the US is purporting to stand for. i.e. ” US style  Democracy.” A short version of which is, ‘if you are not with us you are against us,’ and we will hunt/bomb you down mercilessly, and find ways to fill up more of our privately run prisons. I suspect that Oliver Stone might well have been put under scrutiny in the US more than once.

There is a bit of a story attached to Oliver Stone. We actually met him many years ago. Our daughter was working for RoadShow which at the time of the mid eighties promoted and featured upcoming movies. Our daughter, Susanna, was charged with people associated with a particular upcoming movie, to be looked after. This often included booking accommodation for interstate or overseas people associated with a newly released movie. It was a demanding job but she was very good at it. During the mid eighties, one of those overseas guests was Oliver Stone who had just finished making ‘El Salvador.’

We had already seen  Midnight Express of which the script was written by Oliver Stone in the late seventies. At the time that movie was already controversial and even banned in Turkey. With the arrival of El Salvador in 1986, his skill as both scriptwriting and film producer were already well established. We we were not al all familiar with many films but we did go to movies occasionally. Our daughter managed to sometimes get free tickets and so it was with the  showing of El Salvador at a theatre in Paddington, of which I have forgotten it’s name. Perhaps it was called The Dandy, or some similar silly name. Both our daughter and us decided to see that movie on a weekday. A normal day.

As we queued up for the tickets, Susanna was poked in the ribs by someone behind her. When she turned around, her gaze was met by Oliver Stone whom she apparently had me at the Roadshow office several times already.  She laughed and after a bit of a talk with him, introduced us to  him. “These are my parents, Helvi and Gerard”, she must have said. The exact details of word order might well have been a bit different.  It could just as easily have been; “This is Oliver Stone, these are my parents.” It has been so many years ago! We shook hands, he had large hands.

Anyway, we sauntered in. ( ‘sauntering in,’ is what people do, slowly entering cinemas or church services but not train carriages. We ‘enter or push into’ rail carriages. The movie was very terrifying of how things can go so badly wrong from one moment to the other. We exited the cinema in a haze of incredulity. How could that have happened?  We did not see Oliver Stone ever again, except through his movies. He must have got out earlier. He perhaps wanted to find out how his movie was received in Australia with a different audience.

The interview with Putin is what really made me ponder the pity of it all. Why not have a Putin for US president? Such erudite reasoning. Oh, those direct answers. No aggrandisement nor pursing of lips. And above all, his understanding of the US. At one stage seemingly knowing more about US trade deficits than even Oliver Stone.

On the other hand, Oliver Stone does enjoy the freedom of critical  exposing the US in his movies. We know so little about Russia, much of it mangled by US propaganda. I was in Russia for a short period and loved it.

Even so,  a Putin for US president would be a way forward compared with the present one.

Milo in the fox trap. “2017 is knocking”

December 21, 2016

Almost There

A few more days and it will all be over, but don’t let this fool you. Anything is still possible! Christmas time is as unholy as ever. It seems that even football is now to be avoided at all costs. This, the latest of sexual abuse in the English speaking world;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_football_sexual_abuse_scandal

Twenty police forces are now investigating! Can you believe it? What is it? Is it something in the English fish-chips?

” By mid December, in response to allegations from 350 individuals, The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, several football clubs and over 20 UK police forces had established various inquiries and investigations; on 21 December 2016, 155 potential suspects were said to be involved in alleged abuse of 429 individuals at 148 clubs.”

Mind you, Australia is also at the forefront and riddled with sex scandals. No school, no matter how exclusive or expensive has been found lacking with ‘School Masters’ ( a silly title if ever there was) sexually abusing their students. In fact the more exclusive the worse it seems to get. Cranbrook, Kings College, Scots College. They all queue up like tin soldiers. Former students are fronting up in Royal Commissions telling of their dreadful abuse by former teachers. Headmasters were flat out confessing they should have put a stop to it. But…they did not! One teacher after years of abusing students was finally sacked but given a glowing reference and a handsome pay-out figure. Can you believe it.?

I just thought to update you of the latest, before year’s turning.

I spoke with Harley next door giving condolences for the loss of his beloved chickens. That’s the thing with foxes. They are cruel and kill for the sheer fun of it. It’s not as if they kill and eat one for hunger. Just like us humans really. Kill for fun. The Syrian massacres the latest sample of killing for the sake of killing. A horrible dance macabre. A bacchanalian killing field. And then those serious black suited men sitting around conference tables arranging buses and tut tutting about peace?

Anyway, poor Harley felt a bit rotten about it all. His faithful but dead Barnevelders laying and lying all over the place. (but not with eggs) ‘For once I did not lock them in’, he said looking me in the eyes, a trace of guilt. It reminded me of how the foxes had struck many times on our farm. Dead ducks, chickens and so often too. Foxes, at least the Australian variety, can climb fences. We ended up with the chicken pens having wire over the top as well. A fortress type enclosure was the only way to go. Yet, rarely would one see a fox. You could spend years living in the outback, never see a fox.

As a last resort we bought a strong wire cage as a fox trap. It had a trap door that would clamp shut after the fox had entered to get to his prey. We were told to put in a dead bird and to handle the cage wearing gloves. Any human scent would deter the canny fox. They are smart. Nothing happened. No fox ever trapped. One morning I checked and poor Milo our Jack Russell was inside the trap, looking sheepish. At least he hadn’t touched the duck. It was too smelly. When we sold the farm it must have found a new owner.

Milo in a fox trap. Oh dear!

Can Australia help Holland out in closing down their prisons?

August 8, 2016

While here and in the UK, plans are under way to build more prisons, Holland is closing them. They even asked Norway to send a thousand criminals, to at least fill some of the empty cells and keep employing guards.
http://qz.com/644914/the-netherlands-keeps-having-to-close-its-prisons-due-to-lack-of-prisoners

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The second book for Seniors has arrived.

July 22, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469075634&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The second book has arrived and is now ready, able and willing to be read. ( and bought) It has come with less trouble than the first one. Some of the pictures had to be reduced. I kept getting messages that the images had to have a minimum of dots or digits. A mysterious image of a shifter-spanner also kept appearing in the returned proofs from Createspace. Apparently something to do with Microsoft Word and unprintable Headings and Footnotes. How people know those things is something that will always delude me. The title ‘Oosterman Treats’ is the only title in the whole arsenal of Amazon. At least that is unique!

The next phase will be to market it. Again I’ll try and go around the local bookshops after enough courage has been gleaned and stored. I notice that some people go and do Toastmasters’ course in public speaking. I am practising my approach to the shop manager in front of a mirror. ‘Hello, howz ye going? I am a local author and wonder if you could put up my title(s)in your shop?’

This is followed up by trying to stay as straight and upright as possible. An image of confidence has to now take over as I wait for a reply, unwavering and with enough fortitude not to crumble or show some dejection. Things haven’t been easy when it comes to present my author’s mien.

A confessed love for roof cavity inspections, no worries. A perusing of dogs and ducks, easy peasy. A raconteur with the Aldi’s cashier girls, brilliant verbal skirmishes. A critic of everything political, even people. Australia, Holland, The UK, the US, and everybody all come under his fire. He is verbosely loose, and banned from blogs, but awesomely inspiring.

The idea of self promoting my book has gained though. I now have two on offer. If a refuse comes with showing the first, I can, with a sweeping and magnificent flourish, whip out my latest, ‘Oosterman Treats.’ from my book satchel strapped on my back. The blurb ‘post my vasectomy’ should get some attention.

We shall wait and see. ( get your copy now, available Amazon paperback and kindle).

A Cattle baron or Pensioner?

May 6, 2016

Having just received a publishing contract for Almost There, I thought asking your advice. The PDF file I sent off some weeks ago did receive a favourable response from a UK Publisher from the salubriously situated address at the Canary Wharf, London. There was an oval table and an editorial board who decided that the words of the book’s synopsis and its first couple of chapters had enough merit to consider publishing. They asked for the whole book in Word file. I obliged.

I was overjoyed but somewhat baffled by an Editorial Board having a meeting and the somewhat profuse praise over submissions from an utterly unknown Author of which they must receive dozens, if not hundreds every day. Even so, who would not be pleased by some praise and smooth language? I can tell you, praise is always welcome and at my age, even a shopping trolley without going off a tangent makes my day.

After I sent off the entire manuscripts I was told it might take up to six weeks for a reply. Today, exactly about six weeks, I received a thick envelope By Airmail ‘1st Class Royal Mail,’ from Austin&Macauley, London, with a proposal and contract to publish my book. The covering letter confirmed that all the reports and further meetings by staff, editors and the ‘board’, my work was found to be interesting and engaging. Fair crack of the whip. Could it get any better?

However, after further board meetings, they also felt that due to the marketing team having some doubt about future sales and target audiences it would be best to come to an arrangement of a ‘contributing publishing’ arrangement. The contract came in Duplicate and already signed by the sub editor. The sum of the contribution would be 2500 pounds for a paper back and 3500 pounds for a hard cover.

The letter stated that my book does deserve to be published but the contributing sum asked was only small considering the very considerable costs involved in publishing and above all the marketing of the book. They also stated it would be well worth it, seeing my book would be launched for the reading public alongside other famous publications. My question is; Are they coming the raw prawn? Is it on the level? Twenty-five percent royalty? How many books do I need to sell to recuperate 2500 pounds, even if I live another ten years?

Is it possible they are massaging, assuaging my ego? Might they think of an Australian author as a rich cattle baron? You know, half a million hectares and fifty thousands heads of cattle. Do they see me wearing a slouch hat battling flies and fires while leaning against a fence post? A rich man wanting his book with photo doing the social rounds at Wangaratta or Oodnadatta?

I am a pensioner trying to sell and sharing words around, living with wife and Milo! I mean, I just received five proof copies of my well printed and imminently, (after further correcting,) readable book with over forty photographs and counting 277 pages, all printed for free through CreateSpace. The cost of the proof books airflight posting to Australia from the US, within five days of me finishing uploading the book was about $60.- Trust the Americans to be so efficient!

I don’t know. Google showed some unflattering remarks about publishers seeking contributions from authors. I could not believe my eyes receiving the CreateSpace proof copies today from the Post Office. They look terrific despite some faults and mishaps. I am proud having done it all. I made a mistake of re-sending the same file back again without the corrections. I was furious, but after some reflection decided to up-load the corrected file. This meant starting all over again, including re-designing the cover. It could only be done by making it a new ‘the second’ edition of Almost There, and includes a code number for inclusion in the Australian National Library.

The second new book I sent to the previous UK trusted editor. I have learnt a lot. I am warming up to order some fifty copies or so and will try an sell them through some of the local bookshops. Shall I carry them around in a satchel wearing a beret, knee socks and heavy work-boots?

Life is interesting.

The Budget.

May 3, 2016

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.


Our treasurer, Mr Scott Morrison had all the manners of a Moses holding his staff moments before parting the Red Sea. In fact a sea of red and obstinate budget debts is really closer to the truth. In the aftermath of his reading of the budget and recommending it triumphantly to the House, he started to be interviewed and questioned by prominent journalists. Those, whose job it is to keep the finger on the pulse and report back to the population at large. Millions of viewers were glued to the flat screens, sound bars turned up, not a word to be missed.
Innovation, jobs and growth were the catch words.

Now if this was Germany or Finland, the innovation would be pared to alternative energy. You know, solar- wind, saving the planet, showing the world real innovation. Australia, the sunniest and windiest continent in the world, but…no. Not a word. Our PM knows his hands are tied. The old guard fuddy-duddies, the clueless uncles of clinging to the past still holding him to ransom. But, hang on, our Turnbull was going to change and steer us into the future. Get away from onion eating monarchy loving PMs.

Sadly, no such thing. Back to the past and sleep and snore…The LNP the slumber party.

As for the “Almost There,” just a few more days. The final proof has been done, but each time I open the file, another spelling or funny fault turns up. Yesterday an extra f in off. It should have been a single f. I am so sick of reading my own words. It is naval gazing at its worst. A kind of verbal attempt at bungie jumping at the end of a metal chain. A most jarring experience.

But, take heart, dear readers. I am almost ready to send my second book off to the editor, the brilliant David Burton in the UK. This time, the paper-back edition will appear first and then the kindle version. I have dug into my reservoir of short bits on my Word-Press blog and found enough for many publications into the future. In the meantime I will just ramble on as it comes. The aim is to publish the words in book format as well as on WP. I shall also try and upgrade the Heading of my blog, and advertise the books at the top that I have noticed many of you do as well.

There seems to have seeped a certain lethargy into the present. An autumnal sweeping of brown leaves swirling before the bare skeletons of trees shown up stark in the evening chill. Perhaps a trip up North to warm balmy ocean shores is needed. But then again, all that sand and harsh sun-light, bags of tourists’ fries and hamburgers wafting around. We are both lovers of shade and cinnamon. Perhaps a good walk with Milo will do the trick. We will be asked; ‘How old is your Jack Russell?’ ‘He is eleven now.’ ‘Gee, he still looks very young, almost like a puppy.’ Milo looks up, but goes into a fury when a Harley Davidson roars by. He strains at his lead. Intend on killing the bike and rider.

He lifts anyone’s spirit. He really does.

The double glazing of our lives

February 27, 2014
With thanks to Fiona Kaskauskas

With thanks to Fiona Kaskauskas

I have become a hopeless disciple of double glazing. For days now I look at nothing but web-sites on that subject, even sinking as low as watching videos. One video has a lady extolling the benefits of double glazing. It is one of those you-tube things, home made and unedited. You can tell she had her hair specially done and mum must have done her make-up. Her voice isn’t synchronised with the movement of her lips either. I have watched this video several times in absolute fascination. She ends up saying her life has become so much more ‘comfortable’ and shows this by shutting a panel of double glazing. She smiles a beatific smile worthy of a mother Theresa. I am sure she will go to a heaven full of double glazed panels.

You might think watching a video on double glazing a sure sign Gerard has tipped over the edge. You are not far wrong. I have tried the rest, but it lets in so much noise. Watching the world in the single panel mode is now akin to living in a charnel house. Not a day goes by and another slaughter fronts us on the TV. The 29 or so private school students slaughtered in Uganda. How can this happen? The warring sides in Syria, children’s corpses tossed aside. “This footage might disturb some viewers”, the newsreaders keep saying.

Even the weather report is fraught with calamities of an heretofore unknown scale. People are perched on roof-tops in the UK, others are snowbound in their cars with mobiles and tablets the only thing that keeps them alive and in touch with their survivors. In Australia the drought is getting its grip back again. Dry water holes are the order of the day together with sheep and cow carcasses. I sometimes wonder if journalists have their car-boots packed with sheep carcasses, plastic flowers and teddy bears to add photographic poignancy to their stories?

The real disadvantage of viewing the world through single glazing locally is how Australia treats its refugees. The spectacle of who should apologize to whom over the lack of information coming from our government while a refugee got murdered whilst supposedly under our care. “We mustn’t let the ‘floodgates’ open.”

I would have thought the 700.000 refugees fleeing into Turkey and another 700.000 into Jordan are floodgates. You would think a politician got killed instead of a refugee on Manus Island. It is all so bloody awful. Who would have thought a retirement could be so brutally hampered by almost anything going on in public. Where are the good stories? Even our winter Olympics have been a limp affair. It’s no wonder people turn to double glazing.

We have meekly assuaged our conscience by a monthly donation to Médecins sans Frontières. It’s about the only thing we can do against the overwhelming plights of so many millions. I perhaps subconsciously hunker after a kind of double glazing of life excluding all that misery.
For those that can afford and want to do something, here is the donating web-site of Médecins sans Frontières
http://www.msf.org.au/donate/?utm_source=MSF&utm_medium=email&utm_content=donate&utm_campaign=enewsletter

Of smoked Kippers and going for Pudding

September 3, 2013

IMG_5009-e1316738579117
Of smoked Kippers and going for Pudding,

Years back I spend some time in the UK. It was the year when the Dutch won the World soccer Cup or was it the Euro Cup? I was staying in London’s Sheppard Bush not far from the station. I took the train to the City several times. My fellow travellers were not the most boisterous and generally an icy silence prevailed. Life seemed grim or perhaps my fellow travellers were worried about losing their ‘privacy status’, a much beloved characteristic of so many that are brought up fearing what we might think of each other if we give in to spontaneity and exuberance.

During that stay, I took the train North-East to Yorkshire and stayed in Whitby with a very hospitable and jovial friend whom we had met earlier in Australia. She was a retired magistrate whose professional life in the past dealt with many cases of juvenile offenders steeped in petty crime. Petty crime was rampant at the time and she feared the worst for the future of England. Perhaps that was the reason for the silence on trains. Before going to Whitby I was told it was the only place in the world where kippers were still being smoked naturally. The first thing after arriving at Whitby I visited the kipper smoking factory. It coincided with a group of excitable Japanese tourists doing the same thing. They were taking close-up shots of each other holding up smoked kippers against the backdrop of the ruin of Whitby Abbey.

Smoke was embedded into me at birth. It was the first thing that greeted my tiny nostrils after my mother pushed me out. August 1940; Rotterdam was still smouldering but through sheer luck our street was spared from the nasty bombing raids. Over seventy years later, I am still here waxing about smoked kippers at Whitby. Life can be so wonderful.

It was some years after that auspicious but smoky birth that my parents introduced us kids to the hearty and nourishing delights of huge portions of pea soup with smoked sausage (rookworst). If ever I remember childhood foods it would have to be that dish. It was a simple dish. Mum would soak the peas overnight and boil them up with a couple of potatoes the next day. The smoked sausage, still steaming from having been brought to the boil, would triumphantly be put on the table by father; almost Moses like as if bringing us the Ten Commandments from a thunderous Mount Sinai. He would then ceremoniously cut the sausage in many portions and dear mum would make sure we all got an equal number of Rookworst pieces on our soup plates with the thick slurry of pea-soup ladled over it, drowning out the sausage pieces.

I distinctly remember the fart fests that all the boys, three or four of them, would engage in afterwards. I suppose the bedroom was the birthplace and possibly one of the first smoking facilities, now being rekindled in Whitby by my obstinate memories so many decades later.

Back now at Whitby kippers factory we bought a couple of kippers and I offered to make a pasta dish from them. After arriving back at my friend’s place I cut a brown onion, fried it up and added the fleshy kippers together with a bit of oil, some chili powder and pinch of sugar. Boiled the pasta, added the kipper sauce and bingo, a beautiful dish. She offered afterwards to take me out for ‘pudding’. Taking and going somewhere for ‘pudding’ in Yorkshire really means a visit to a café for a nice cup-o-tea and a piece of cake. It was lovely.

I remember it well.

A bad world with Noam Chomsky and the UK Cardinal

February 25, 2013

chomskycarp460

A  bad world with Noam Chomsky and the UK Cardinal.

A sex scandal is engulfing a top UK Catholic priest. Allegation of this top Cardinal sharing drinking session with other priests with inappropriate behavior as a bonus will overshadow news of the flooding at the Australian Clarence River valley. Blade runner Pistorius is accused of murder and his brother of manslaughter as well as the top police prosecutor. The chance of scallywag Berlusconi returning to the top job in Italy. It just never rains but it pours.

It seems hard to come to anything redeeming this world. Where are the good news stories? Well, we lived for a long while on how Malala is showing the world to be courageous and not let being shot at in a bus remain a hindrance in wanting to attend school. She was indeed an ‘Icon of bravery’. The handing out of bravery medal for saving a drowning toddler, plus the occasional story of people with miraculous returns to life from dreadful diseases, do make headlines of sorts, but how do they weigh up against the ‘misery’ one?

Some years ago I remember reading a book called ‘the manufacturing of consent, by Noam Chomsky. While he might be best known for that book, he is lesser known for his writings about language and his theory that language is innate and that grammar and syntax ought not to restrict the language by too many rules. The innateness of language is one of the reasons why children learn languages so easily, almost effortlessly and naturally with the ability to understand and convey messages with the most eloquence and brevity which many also lose when growing up.

Why is that? How come they end up saying ‘stuff like that’ or, unable to find words to answer a question, escaping in the inane ‘you know’. No, we don’t! Perhaps the parents are mute, watching non-stop TV and with swallowing endless snack bars without uttering many words. Children do have to hear words being spoken.

We are so often surprised and entertained when the 4 year old comes up with the most astonishing observations and able to give words to it. Walking around with our dog (the incorrigible Jack Russell) Milo, he is often noticed by children in prams before they actually take notice of the adult a bit higher up, if at all. It seems that children and pets also connect better when they are still very young. Perhaps, dogs and toddlers are much closer in nature, more alert, more observant and an understanding, especially by dogs that children have much in common, including a language.

The understanding that priests, no matter how godly they are supposed to be, are without the tincture of carnality, would only escape the ignorant or the most fanatical of unquestioning believers. Why should they be excluded from that blessing or curse, depending on the acceptance of carnal pleasures or feelings of eternal misery infected by guilt and flames of promised eternal damnation?

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I can well imagine the priests after a couple of lovely cold ales or stouts freeing up, letting go of the stifling and forbidden, being cloistered up for weeks, trying  running away from their risible combustible erections and other forbidden mea culpa  temptations to give in to what the rest of us
are allowed, more or less, give free reign to.

Now years later, after all those thirty years of struggling in being good, all hell on earth now breaks loose with another hell waiting just around the corner. The poor Pope, it is all getting a bit much. He too must have had his morning glories. Perhaps, with a particular lovely nun having looked at him, oh so coyly sweetly and Virgin Mary like, in the papal eye and given rise to nature’s natural temptations.

A helicopter will soon take him away to a retirement and holiday destination south of Rome. He will still remain a catholic with a deep faith, he has promised. I wish him a few good years.

It’s not easy and we will be lucky to get out alive.

Bad news always outpaces the good.